Everything to know about Dragon fruit
Dragon fruit is a versatile, colorful, and nutritious food that is bursting with health benefits, despite the fact that it may sound more at home in a fairytale or children’s book than on your plate. Dragon fruit, also known as dragon pearl fruit, cactus fruits, pitahaya, or pitaya, is a delicious superfruit from the tropics that has many positive health benefits. In fact, some of the possible health advantages of dragon fruit include a slower onset of aging, improved blood sugar control, and improved immune function—all of which are critical for promoting overall health.
This tasty ingredient has gained popularity in recent years among both fruit lovers and adventurous eaters. In fact, it served as the inspiration for a Starbucks beverage that combines the fruit with mango, white grape juice, and green coffee bean extract. Dragons might not exist, but the fruit bearing their name most definitely is.
About Dragon fruit
The gorgeous tropical fruit known as dragon fruit, also called pitaya or the strawberry pear, is sweet and crunchy. The plant from which the fruit is produced is actually a species of cactus belonging to the Hylocereus genus, which has about 20 different species. Dragon fruit is now grown and consumed all over the world, having first gained popularity in Southeast Asia and Latin America. Despite having a pinkish-red skin and light green scales, this unusual fruit is simple to prepare. It tastes great in fruit salads, it can be used to make delectable drinks and desserts, and it makes a great, healthy snack all by itself.
Pitaya is actually a member of the cactus family and is native to tropical areas of the Americas, which makes sense given its spiky outer layer. It comes from a plant called a dragon fruit, which resembles a climbing vine and thrives best in dry environments. This fruit can initially seem rather intimidating, but it peels quite easily. It typically has an oval, elliptical, or pear shape and a sweet, occasionally sour flavor. The interior is typically white or red and contains tiny seeds that resemble sesame seeds and have a similar crunch to kiwi seeds.
In the present, South Florida, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Taiwan, and Malaysia are the main sources of distribution. Pitahaya and Pitaya Roja are the names for it in Mexico and South and Central America, respectively. Pitahaya is the Spanish name for Central American fruiting vines. The tropical fruit known as longan, also known as dragon eye fruit, is closely related to other species of fruit, including the lychee, rambutan, and ackee. Dragon fruit, on the other hand, is very different from these other fruits.
The various varieties of dragon fruit can technically be classified by genus, species, and hybrids. While Selenicereus only has one species of dragon fruit, the genus Hylocereus has three species, each of which includes a number of hybrids. Dragon fruit can, however, be divided into different groups based on the color of their flesh and skin.
The most popular dragon fruit is a pink-skinned, white-fleshed variety called Hylocereus undatus. It may be sold under the names Alice, Cosmic Charlie, David Bowie, Guyute, Harpua, L.A. Woman, Neitzel, Seoul Kitchen, Thomson, and Vietnamese Jaina. This variety is the least sweet. In comparison to the more popular variety, Hylocereus polyrhizus frequently grows larger and tastes sweeter. It has pink skin and red or pink flesh. Be on the lookout for Zamorano, Red Jaina, Voodoo Child, and Bloody Mary.
The third fruit species in this genus is called Hylocereus guatemalensis. It has purple flesh and bright pink skin. It is marketed as American Beauty and is native to Central and South America. It is also grown in Florida. The tiniest and sweetest variety has white flesh and a yellow coat. Selenicereus megalanthus, which is primarily grown in South America, is the most challenging to locate because it is not mass-produced.
Dragon fruit nutrition information makes it clear why this tropical fruit is so beneficial to your health. In addition to having few calories, it also has a lot of dietary fiber, magnesium, and riboflavin. The fruit’s other parts also contain additional nutrients. For instance, the skin is a great source of fiber and the seeds are high in good fats.
Pitaya contains the following nutrients in every 100 grams:
13 grams carbohydrates
1.2 grams protein
3 grams dietary fiber
40 milligrams magnesium (10 percent DV)
0.1 milligrams riboflavin (8 percent DV)
0.7 milligrams iron (4 percent DV)
2.5 milligrams vitamin C (3 percent DV)
0.4 milligrams niacin (2 percent DV)
18 milligrams calcium (1 percent DV)
It also contains phosphorus and other vitamins and minerals.
A naturally low-calorie food, carbohydrates make up the majority of the calories in dragon fruit. Dragon fruit contains two different types of carbohydrates: fiber and naturally occurring sugars (13g per 6-ounce serving). In a 6-ounce serving, you’ll get 5 grams of fiber, or about 18% of the daily recommended amount.
Although the exact glycemic index (GI) of dragon fruit has not been determined, one study hypothesizes that it is comparable to that of a banana, or between 48 and 52. Foods are referred to as high glycemic foods if their GI is 55 or higher.
Dragon fruit contains just a tiny bit of fat. Omega-3, omega-6, and polyunsaturated fatty acids—all beneficial fatty acids—are present in the edible seeds.
There are only a few grams of protein in dragon fruit—about 2 grams per serving.
Minerals and vitamins
In addition to offering vitamin C and riboflavin, dragon fruit also contains 17% of the daily recommended amount of magnesium, a mineral essential to hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body. In addition, dragon fruit has calcium, iron, and niacin.
Benefits of Dragon Fruit
1. May Boost Immunity
The immune system benefits greatly from the abundance of flavonoids and flu-fighting vitamin C found in dragon fruit. Pitaya is one of the best vitamin C foods available because it has more vitamin C than a carrot. The antioxidant content of dragon fruit is also very high, which helps fight off dangerous free radicals. The vitamins B1, B2, and B3, as well as calcium, phosphorus, iron, protein, niacin, and fiber, all work together to maintain the health of your immune system.
2. Digestive Aid
We are aware that fiber helps with digestion, and that fruits and vegetables are the best sources of fiber. Pitaya has a lot of fiber, which can help you stay regular and get rid of problems like acid reflux and constipation. Compared to dried dragon fruit, which has about 10 grams of fiber per 100 grams, fresh dragon fruit only has about one gram of fiber per 100 grams. You can even eat the pitaya’s skin and seeds to get a little more fiber.
Due to the oligosaccharides it contains, dragon fruit also aids digestion. These oligosaccharides function as prebiotics, which enhance digestion and gut health. The introduction of functional compounds like prebiotics in the diet “seems to be an attractive alternative to ameliorate the quality of life ridden with obesity, cancer, hypersensitivity, vascular diseases and degenerative ailments,” according to research published in the journal 3 Biotech.
3. Diabetes Prevention and Management
The fiber in pitaya not only aids in better digestion but also stabilizes blood sugar levels for better blood sugar control. Pitaya was found in an animal model that was published in the Journal of Pharmacognosy Research to reduce oxidative stress, suggesting that eating it may help prevent some diabetes-related problems. Additionally, additional research examining the benefits of dragon fruit on insulin resistance in obese mice discovered that consuming dragon fruit may lower the risk of developing diabetes.
According to the animal study reported above in the Journal of Pharmacognosy Research, dragon fruit is a fantastic cholesterol-lowering food because it may help lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol while raising levels of good HDL cholesterol. And don’t forget about the dragon fruit’s tiny black seeds. Every serving contains a massive amount of omega fatty acids, which can lower triglycerides and safeguard heart health.
5. Maintains Youthfulness
Antioxidants are great for maintaining a healthy internal environment in the body, but they also have a significant impact on skin health. The skin is kept tight and firm by antioxidants, which can help maintain a youthful appearance.
Additionally, the fruit’s phosphorus content boosts anti-aging effects. About 1% of your body weight is made up of phosphorus, an essential mineral found in all body cells. Every cell contains it, so its impact on cellular repair is crucial to maintaining the youth of our skin and preventing early aging.
6. Possibly Preventing Cancer
Antioxidants found in dragon fruit include phytoalbumin, vitamin C, and lycopene. These antioxidants may even provide protection against cancer by assisting in the neutralization of dangerous free radicals. It has been demonstrated that lycopene, in particular, is particularly effective against cancer cells. In fact, some studies suggest that eating more lycopene-rich foods may reduce your risk of getting prostate cancer.
Furthermore, an in-vitro investigation reported in Nutrition and Cancer demonstrated that lycopene treatment inhibited the growth and metastasis of cancer cells and decreased cell viability in ovarian cancer cells.
Risks and Negative Impacts
Most people can safely enjoy this tasty fruit as a part of a balanced, healthy diet. Rarely, however, some individuals have mentioned having an allergic reaction after eating the fruit. Immediately stop using dragon fruit and consult your doctor if you experience any side effects like hives, itching, or swelling. Due to its high fiber content, abruptly increasing your intake could result in problems like bloating, constipation, and stomach pain. To avoid adverse effects, make sure to gradually increase your fiber intake and pair it with lots of water.
How to Prepare Dragon Fruit
Squeeze the dragon fruit gently before purchasing. It should be slightly flexible without feeling mushy or soft. Avoid fruit with dry or bruised leaves, which indicate that it is overripe. Before eating, let the fruit ripen on the counter for a few days if it feels hard to the touch.
Cut the fruit into quarters to prepare it. Peel off the skin or use a spoon, ice cream scoop, or melon baller to scoop out the flesh. Avoid eating the skin.
How to Eat Dragon Fruit
Finding a place to purchase this delicious fruit can be a bit difficult and may require you to look outside of your neighborhood supermarket. But it is frequently offered at numerous farmers markets, health food stores, and specialty shops. The simplest way to determine whether a dragon fruit is ripe is to look for a fruit with an even color and no soft spots or indications of deterioration. It should give slightly when squeezed, signifying that it is fully ripe and ready for consumption.
Do you want to know how to eat dragon fruit and what it tastes like? Pitaya is a great addition to salads, smoothie bowls, and shakes because of its sweet, slightly sour flavor. Additionally, it goes well in recipes for salsa, baked goods, and sherbets. It can also be combined with other fruits and used as a topping for yogurt and oatmeal.
Simply slicing the dragon fruit in half and separating the halves is the quickest way to cut dragon fruit. The fruit can be eaten straight from the container with a spoon or peeled and cut into chunks or cubes for your favorite recipe. There are several ways to consume dragon fruit. Combine it with other tropical fruits like pineapple and mango in a fruit salad. Chop it up into salsa. Create ice cream out of it. Add it to water or juice by pressing it. Put it on top of Greek yogurt. Or you could freeze it and make a smoothie with it.
Tropical fruits of the dragon fruit variety are distinguished by their distinctive appearance and exceptional nutrient profile.
Although it is believed that the dragon fruit originated in the tropics of the Americas, it is now widely cultivated in other places, such as Southeast Asia, Florida, and the Caribbean.
Although the climbing vine that the fruit grows on resembles a dragon fruit tree, it is actually a type of dry-land dragon fruit cactus.
Improved immunity, better blood sugar regulation, better heart health, improved digestion, and protection from some cancers are just a few of the potential advantages of dragon fruit.
Dragon fruit can be prepared in a variety of ways and tastes great in salads, smoothie bowls, shakes, and many other dishes. Other ways to eat dragon fruit include mixing it with yogurt, oatmeal, baked goods, or even salsa.